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Guérer, A.L. (2001). The Psychoanalysts’ Nose. Psychoanal. Rev., 88(3):401-453.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Review, 88(3):401-453

The Psychoanalysts’ Nose

Annick Le Guérer, Ph.D.

Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Fliess, And Emma Eckstein: Three Nasal Narratives At The Origins Of Psychoanalysis

Nasal Pathologies and Cocaine

It is evident, I think, that the important role played by the sense of smell at the birth of psychoanalysis owes a great deal to Sigmund Freud's relationship with Wilhelm Fliess, a relationship in which the nose played a dominant part. The nasal pathology of Fliess's father is what led his son to that particular field of medicine, which became the focus of his attentions and in which he became a well-known specialist. Fliess believed that he had discovered a clinical entity, a nervous reaction connected to the nasal passages.(1) He theorized that infections of the turbinate bodies and sinuses and edemas of the nasal mucous membrane were the underlying causes of a whole complex of symptoms: migraine headaches, neuralgic pains in almost any part of the body, and various functional problems—cardiac, respiratory, digestive, and sexual. All of these diverse conditions had one common characteristic: They could be temporarily alleviated by anaesthetizing the proper nasal areas with cocaine.


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